The Eastern Michigan University women’s cross-country team recently finished its best all-team season since 1996, finishing second at the Mid-American Conference Championship this year and sending all team members to the NCAA championship for the first time in school history.
Since 2006 EMU’s women’s cross-country team has experienced continual growth when Head coach Sue Parks started coaching the team. Each year from 2009 the team placed higher at the MAC Championship going from ninth in 2009 to fourth in 2013.
The 2014 season started Aug. 29, 2014, at the Toledo Home Opener, after Coach Parks signed the largest recruiting class in recent years. EMU’s cross-country finished second behind Toledo. This strong win lead to a strong season.
Throughout the season EMU’s cross-country team traveled throughout Michigan but also traveled the country, competing against nationally ranked teams.
The women’s cross-country team ended their regular season by hosting the annual EMUU Fall Classic, Oct. 25. Amy Frauhammer (Saline, Michigan-Saline) was the top runner of the EMU team.
Throughout the regular season, Victoria Voronko was honored as the MAC Runner of the Week after every one of her appearances. The senior picked up the award five times, adding to her collection of weekly awards that would total 10 for her career. Voronko was awarded the honor on Sept. 4, Sept. 16, Sept. 30, Oct. 7, and Oct. 21.
When it came time for the MAC Championship, Nov. 1, the women’s cross-country team saw its first MAC champion since 1997 and third in program history when Voronko crossed the line in a MAC 6K record time of 20:21.
Highlighting the regional meet were Voronko and Sofie Gallein (Gits, Belgium-University of Leven), who finished 10th and 11th following a breakthrough performance by Gallein, who cut a minute off her previous best 6,000-meter time. With their strong finish as the two top harriers from the MAC, the duo earned individual bids to the NCAA Championship, marking the first time in history that the Eagles have ever sent two individual qualifiers to the national stage.
The NCAA Championship, run on the same course as the previous Pre-Nationals Invitational, did not have the outcome that Voronko and Gallein had wanted to end their seasons, but the two easily finished in the upper half of the nation's best runners.
Although the EMU Women’s cross-country team loses three seniors, the team has been building its depth and talent for the past years and is ready to continue its quest to be the top team in the MAC, searching for the first conference title in program history. With Gallein returning to pace the Eagles in 2015, the squad is sure to be a strong contender come the 2015 MAC Championship.